Category Archives: meaning of life

Finding Meaning in Life, Key to Satisfaction and Fulfilment

Meaning in life is found by finding your purpose in life.

To discover meaning in life, we have to find the meaning we give to life by the unfolding of our powers.

People from all walks of life share an inborn urge to find meaning in life; to discover direction and purpose in their existence.

This desire to find meaning in life appears to be as vital to our psychological development as eating to our biological continuity.

We all seek meaning in our lives and recognize meaning’s absence in lives characterized by boredom, dullness, isolation, and listless disengagement. But what is meaning in life? Is it distinctive, or reducible to other aims and conceptions? Is it a helpful category for thinking about good lives that are worth living? Is it sensible and coherent to want it in one’s life?

According to Viktor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor: “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

Throughout our evolutionary journey, many of us spend a lot of time in the search of happiness. We attempt towards a goal more focused on a better paid job, greater status, or acquiring the latest possession, rather than spending our energy and time on things which can contribute more value and fulfilment to our lives.

“Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.”

Although an unfulfilled life doesn’t mean an unhappy or unhealthy life, but lack of finding a meaning in life can create anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

Finding fulfilment and meaning in life is more about giving to others, to the community, to the environment, and to the world.

By giving, and by finding purpose, we discover satisfaction and meaning in life, but not necessarily happiness, even though it can be a by-product. Finding a meaning in life gives us a purpose to go on despite life circumstances.

Meaning and fulfilment can be found in three activities as Viktor Frankl devised in his “meaning triangle“:

  1. Creative Self-Expression: Give something to the world through expressing your own creativity in some form, whether it be through art, music, writing, good deed.  By being self-expressed we let people see our spirit and true character; they will see the totality of who we are.  And sharing of one’s “self” fully is the ultimate in generosity and is vital for finding peace, happiness and meaning in life. It’s really the state of just being yourself. And it’s also what others refer to as the state of flow; that timeless state that we’re in where we are not really aware so much of what we’re doing, it’s more of a sense of being. We’re right there in the moment; we’re in the present moment, expressing naturally who we are. And what we’re really expressing is a state of joy and fulfilment.
  1. Experiencing the world through connection, nature, culture, spirituality: Viktor Frankl wrote, realizing that our lives has reason and purpose, will enable us to understand that we are fully responsible for our lives, and for continuing them. “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.””.Our Why gives us clarity, meaning and direction. It is a filter through which we can make decisions, every day, to bring our cause to life. A Why Statement is one sentence that captures our unique contribution and impact. The contribution is the real applicable part of our Why. The impact is the condition we wish to leave the people and world around us. Together, these two components provide a meaning in life for us and those we serve.
  1. Choosing the attitude toward inevitable situations or suffering: There’s not a single person in this world that can escape from suffering. There is always a time in one’s life that they have to face unpreventable painful situation. Often, the first thing we do in a crisis is to judge what, if anything, we can do to fix the problem. But what if it isn’t fixable?  In that case, the one kind of control we can apply is to change our attitude to this new reality.   Similar to the old saying of turning lemons into lemonade. As Viktor Frankl suggested: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms; to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Suffering comes when things change – a relationship ends, someone dies, we get fired from a job, illness attacks, a disaster happens.  Sadness introduces us to impermanence and so can help us learn to let go. By having the courage to touch our own pain and suffering, we start feeling empathy for the pain and suffering of others.  We begin to see that my suffering and your suffering are the same.  “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.” ― Viktor Frankl

Remembering and thinking about the story of our lives, will help us to reflect back on what we have found joyful and meaningful. It can clarify the tasks which we have undertaken and have given us the most sense of meaning in life. And it may suggest further goals we might want to set for ourselves now.  These tasks can be in any realm; stories to write, children to care for, lessons to learn or teach, relationships to attend to, artistic ventures such as painting or sculpture, etc.  Meaning in life can be found in the very act of bearing witness to the events of our lives.  The most important thing is that these tasks feel meaningful to us to fulfil them.  It doesn’t matter what other people think of them. It is the knowledge that we’re born with an expiration date that drives our need for a sense of meaning in life to begin with.

As Joseph Campbell suggests: “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life.”


How to Live Life with Passion and Aliveness

How to live life with passion and aliveness. Express your aliveness by giving; of yourself, of your resources, of your heart. ― Patti Digh

 In our difficult world there are many easy solution; but these solutions are not always the best ones. If you are bored, you may spend your spare time engulfed in a combination of engagement with television, radio, movies; but wouldn’t you feel better if you actively tackled some project, some hobby, something to which you committed your creative passion?

If you are lazy, you can stick a precooked dinner in the oven, but perhaps you might have cooked a better meal yourself, and enjoyed the living involved in doing this chore.

You can even spend your day resting on your bed, all alone, sealed off from life, but couldn’t you do better? Needless to say, I am not against television, movies, radios, or precooked dinners; nor am I against resting in moderation.

What I am against is an essentially passive way of doing things. When you are passive, you retire from the excitement of life and the enjoyment of stimulating give-and-take. You move away from the life process; you kill life in yourself. Yet life can invade you, can inflict suffering on you, while you lie helplessly, passively, a victim of your own inertia.

You might say but “I am in debt” and “I have to save my energy for making money”. But does being a spectator help you? Yes you may have financial problems; most people do, but a boring and passive life will not stimulate you to overcome them. Your strength is not premature burial of your participation in life. It is in your passionate pursuance of an active philosophy, in optimistic, realistic, active living.

“Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefulness, and gratefulness is a measure of our aliveness.” ― David Steindl Rast

Do, create, and innovate. Stay in the world, and do not baby yourself. You do not have to be perfect, but you do have to take part, you do have to be involved, and you have to remain in the mainstream of life.

When we think of aliveness and passion, we think of a freshness and vigour, a spring to the step and a ring to the laugh. We think of driving curiosity, of eager creativity. If it is aliveness and passion that we seek so ardently, we can find it at any chronological stage in our lives. The American poet Helen Hunt Jackson once wrote that “whom the gods love, live young forever”.

I do not know who the “gods” love, but I do know that if you have a gentle respect for yourself, a belief in your fundamental goodness, you will feel alive and “young” as long as you live. You will not dedicate your life to indifference and complaint, to the emptying out of your sorrows and miseries into the nearest ears, which you hope will be sympathetic.

Aliveness, passion, vitality, aflame with earnest endeavour must be one of your most cherished aims in life regardless of any age.

When does your preparation start? It starts right now. If you are sixteen, forty six, or sixty six, it starts right now.

You begin with a basic process of self-education; it is a fairly simple process, yet we all seem to overlook it in the smothering clamour of miscellaneous, often irrelevant data that clutter up our minds in this hustle-bustle world of ours. In this self-educative process you need master the terminology of no dictionary. You don’t have to hold college degree or to understand the theory of relativity. You must simply come to grips with yourself. You must assert the power of integrity of your self-image. You must establish the authentic dignity of your self-image on a realistic base as a foundation for full living at present age; now.

Life is not a picnic; sometimes there is no food at all, and ants and mosquitoes to boot. You must survive your failure and disappointments; charge back off the floor and keep punching. There are no handouts; you can expect only what you give yourself. You can only count on the spark and fire and friendliness which you, the thinker, give you, the acting person in life.

“Own your disappointment, acknowledge it for what it is, and move on.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert

Suppose you lose your job or your business venture is failing. You feel depressed; who wouldn’t? You feel frustrated, perhaps nervous or angry. For two or three days you may be hard to get along with; and fair-weather friends will avoid you. But how are you thinking now that all this is in the past? Are you bogged down in a state of depression, blaming yourself for your mistakes, hating those whose actions hurt you? Is your mind a staccato messenger of criticism, piercing you with reminders of what you might have done and with what you might have been? Do you see yourself over and over, blundering, and hate what you see so much that you end up losing sight of yourself entirely, blotting out the self image that is your best friend in life?

Or do you see yourself kindly? Do you see yourself making mistakes, yet forgive yourself and tell yourself that you are only human? Do you then resolve to avoid this type of mistake, if possible, yet with a determination to accept yourself if you err again? Do you then see yourself in your good moments, making wise choices, carrying out intelligent actions, achieving what you wanted to achieve? Do you carry this image of yourself back into your mind, this image of yourself accomplishing your goals, this image of yourself as the kind of person you can be?

“A failure is not a loss. It’s a gain. You learn. You change. You grow” ―Michael Barata

If you can rebound from failure, any failure, in this accepting, non-judgemental, positive way, your self image once more restored, on your side, you will feel aliveness and vitality all the years of your life. Your problems will not terrify you when you think of them; instead you will feel hope because the pattern of your thinking is hopeful.

GOD created life in us so that we could live passionately and actively in this world HE fashioned. GOD made us, with our marvellous bodies and our complex minds, so that we could have meaning and happiness in our lives.

If you believe in a Higher Power, you must believe in the purpose in life, no matter how difficult the world may seem during depressing periods.

Tear fear from your heart; bury your negative thinking, and tell off friends who try to convince you that life is dull.

“Smile every chance you get; not because life has been easy, perfect, or exactly as you had anticipated, but because you choose to be happy and grateful for all the good things you do have and all the problems you know you don’t have”


Bring Joy And Fulfilment Into Your Life

Bring joy and fulfilment into your life. Life can be as joyous and meaningful as we choose to make it. Joy is what makes life beautiful. It runs deeper than mere ‘pleasure’, is more enduring than mere ‘fun’, and is more intense and thrilling than mere ‘happiness’. Joy is what helps us to get through challenges, heals our wounds, inspires us to greatness, and fills our souls with goodness. What brings joy and fulfilment into your life may be completely different from what provides others a sense of satisfaction and achievement. “The road to self-fulfilment is different for everyone. Everyone has a special plan and purpose on this Earth. That is why your path to personal fulfilment will take a unique course as well as present different opportunities to realize it”.
As human beings, we give a great deal of meaning, or no meaning at all, to various things in life. Sometimes we give more value and significance to things like a new car, a fancy house or the latest gadget on the market, rather than spending our energy and time on things which can contribute more value and joy to our lives. “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life”. ~ Jean Shinoda Bolen
You can find meaning and satisfaction in your life if you know where to look for it. To help you find your path, there are some day to day ways that people have come to follow in order to reach a significant and rich life. You can use these following steps as guide to bring joy and fulfilment into your life:
1- Choose your words wisely: “You can’t take back words you’ve already said, and you can’t take back someone’s tears that already shed”. We all have our favourite expressions, the ones we come out with now and again. We are constantly bombarded with the words of others. What do our words say about us? How the words of others affect us? What effects do these words have on us, on our emotions, on how we value ourselves? We can play this game a few times, we will discover just how the words we use and the words we hear every day can affects our moods and transform our feelings for good or bad. And with this awareness we will start choosing our words more carefully, selecting those which make us feel good, bringing joy and fulfilment into our life, and avoiding those which make us feeling bad. “Simply by changing your habitual vocabulary – the words you consistently use to describe the emotions of your life – you can instantaneously change how you think, how you feel, and how you live.” ~ Tony Robbins
2- Love and accept yourself: “We are who we are, and no amount of wishful thinking will make us someone else, will make us different”. So accept yourself for who you are, and be willing to improve and take appropriate steps to change yourself, if it is possible for you to do so. Acceptance is not giving up or resignation. It is recognizing of things as they are; a recognition that can help us to move on with our lives, enhancing ourselves, making our lives and our experiences more positive and more fulfilling. Self-acceptance also involves the idea of having compassion for ourselves and love ourselves despite all our limitations, weaknesses and imperfections. “Love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself, and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia
3- Work to build up your self image: You bring no joy into your life if you don’t like your image of yourself; you can’t live on the top floor of a building which has no foundation. You will not find joy in work, in travel, in conversation, in power, in money, or in beautiful scenery, if your self image is inadequate. Search around in your mind each day for your successful memories. Get into the habit of searching those wonderful moments, and bring these realistically joyful times front stage centre. See yourself this way successful, acting and thinking the way you like to act and think; reactive these positive images each day. Not only must you focus on your picture of contentment, but you must also be kind to your areas of weakness, if the joy and fulfilment are to be factors in your life.
4- Unearth your hidden wealth: What is this hidden wealth? It is your creative gifts, your talents, your abilities for doing and for giving. But why do you keep them hidden? Is it because you fear of criticism or because your resources, unused to exposure, may seem imperfect? Almost every person alive has some area of excellence, some genius, the expression of which make him/her feel more alive, more important as a person. What a pity that so much of this self- expression is wasted! For undeveloped resources have no more value than unmined, buried precious metals. If you cannot reach them and bring them into open, others do not even know they exist. Worse still, even you do not know of their existence and in your ignorance, you deprive yourself of so much joy and fulfilment. You don’t need shovels or bulldozers, land titles or contracts to unearth your precious gifts; all you need is this determination that you are going to give yourself and your spirit the same loving attention that you would to the treasures of your material world, your car, your front lawn or your kitchen. “Don’t die with your music still in you” ~ Wayne Dyer
5- Give to others: This is a world in which sometimes the only thing that seems to matter is the “fast buck”. It is one of the great tragedies of civilized life today that we emphasize less importance on giving to others without any expectation. Yet there are still people, even though they won’t admit it, have a tremendous craving for love and acceptance. They also long to express their goodness, to give of themselves. Through careful, considerate treatment which may surprise most people or even arouse their suspicions, if they feel that your friendliness is genuine, they will respond warmly. If they have long felt deprived of affection, the extent of their gratitude may amaze you. The Law of Giving is really simple: if you want more joy, give joy to others. If you want love, learn to give love. If you want happiness, help others become happy. And if you want to become wealthy, learn to help others become materially affluent. True wealth is not shown through earthly possessions, but by leading a fulfilling life. And there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing we have made a tangible difference in the lives of other people. In helping others with no self-serving motives, we may find the greatest satisfaction we have ever known. “Give others all that is alive in you; your interest, understanding, your knowledge, your humour, everything in you that’s good. In doing so, we enhance the sense of aliveness in others while enhancing our own. When we give, we get a ‘heightened vitality’ of what it means to be human.” ~Erich Fromm
6- Set worthy goals: Having goals and working towards them is an essential part of being human. It gives us a sense of direction, purpose and meaning in life. It is not only enough to select goals, but to focus our attention on them, and then achieve them.
Part of finding joy and fulfilment in life is to have a Higher Purpose. Something to strive for that is larger than us. It is everyone’s desire to matter and to make a difference in this world, whether at work or in other people’s life. And by giving to someone or something that is bigger than us, is how we achieve deep meaning and satisfaction in our lives. We all need to feel that our lives stand for something and we make somehow useful contribution to this world. We can only find joy and fulfilment in our lives when we find ourselves working towards something which is important to us. Viktor E. Frankl once said: “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
7- Nurture and enjoy loving relationships: Relationships are one of the biggest sources of joy and fulfilment in human lives. Studies show that people who have large, supportive circle of family and friends, a fulfilling marriage, and a thriving social life, are more content and satisfied in their lives. That’s why nurturing our relationships with our loved ones is one of the best emotional investments we can make. If we concentrate to build connection with others, we will soon receive the benefits of more positive emotions. And as we become happier, we will attract more people and higher-quality relationships, leading to even greater positivity and enjoyment. It’s the happiness gift that keeps on giving. These relationships we have with people who we love and care about, and the people who love and care about us, determine of how we are doing as human beings. “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” ~ Anais Nin

Your life is yours alone. Others can try to advise you, but they can’t make a choice for you.  The way we live our lives is important as it impacts our community, our society and the world. Our positive contribution to the community and society paves the way for the development and enhancement of many lives. The good impact that we leave behind initiate others to do better. The better is developed into the best by others that follow; so, the good legacy that we leave behind helps the world to become better. It’s not about earning a name or fame, it’s about giving back, as we all want our loved ones to have the best to their disposal and live a good and better life. “There are certain things fundamental to human fulfilment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase ‘to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy” ~ Stephen Covey